Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Shares Reverse Course As Analysts Dig Into That Profit Surprise

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Shares Reverse Course As Analysts Dig Into That Profit Surprise
<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/Blomst/">Blomst</a> / Pixabay

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares jumped in extended trading last night after the company posted a surprise GAAP profit. On paper, things looked solid despite the confusion caused by eliminating some of the non-GAAP reporting. However, most analysts see a capital raise in the near future despite CEO Elon Musk’s comments to the contrary. Despite this, Tesla did pick up a couple of price target increases, although the company’s biggest bears are still not convinced.

The automaker reported $2.3 billion in sales, 71 cents per share in non-GAAP earnings and 14 cents per share in GAAP net income.

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Forecasting a difficult Q4

UBS analyst Colin Langan is one of the most bearish analysts when it comes to Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) with his $160 price target and Sell rating. He warned that most of the third quarter beat was due to one-time sales of zero-emission vehicle credits, and he’s forecasting a return to losses for the fourth quarter. He doesn’t buy the automaker’s outlook for being in the green on GAAP net income in the current quarter.

He sees this as being difficult to achieve a GAAP profit in the fourth quarter without any ZEV credits, with higher operating expenditures, and about the same number of deliveries as the third quarter. In order to come out breakeven, Langan estimates that automotive gross margins would have to rise from 25% in the third quarter to more than 30% in the fourth quarter.

He notes that the discontinuation of the 60kWh Model X and the addition of the 100kWh model will help but adds that the lower Model X Signature, combined with the rising mix of the 60kWh Model S and limited leverage on fixed costs will offset the gains.

Tesla’s (TSLA) cash flow may go red again

The analyst believes Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s $176 million cash inflow in the third quarter will switch around in the fourth quarter as the automaker’s working capital unwinds and capital expenditures rise by about four times. In the third quarter, the company realized $580 million in operating cash from working capital, but he expects this metric to be -$150 million in the current quarter.

Further, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s capital expenditures are expected to skyrocketed from $250 million in the last quarter to $1.05 billion in the current quarter. They are likely to remain high through the second quarter of next year, and although the automaker claims it has enough cash, he still expects a capital raise sometime within the next year.

Goldman Sachs raises Tesla (TSLA) price target

Goldman Sachs analyst David Tamberrino raised his price target on Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) from $185 to $190 and reiterated his Neutral rating on the stock. Like Langan, he sees a capital raise as being likely. He noted that the automaker said it won’t need to raise capital in the fourth quarter, but based on the “cadence” of upcoming capital expenditures, he expects a capital raise sometime next year.

Unlike the UBS analyst, he did find some good things to point to. For example, he believes the company demonstrated capital and operational efficiency with its third quarter results through the positive free cash flow and sequential expansion of the gross margin. Additionally, he notes that new Model S and Model X orders increased 68% in the third quarter, a slight acceleration from the previous quarter’s 67% growth.

He described the third quarter as “a solid quarter, but not enough Automotive mojo to overcome what we see as increased risk from the company’s capital deployment strategy and 2017 uncertainty form the Model 3 launch.”

RBC Capital analysts also raised their price target on Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), bumping it up from $210 to $220 per share. After jumping in after-hours trading last night, the stock reversed course as Thursday’s regular trading hours dragged on. The stock was only up 0.21% at $202.66 as of this writing.

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